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  • Place of origin:

    Munich (made)

  • Date:

    1742 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Grossauer, Joseph (made)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 3, case CA3

The two marks on the foot rim of this chalice show it was made in Munich, probably in 1742, by the successful and prolific goldsmith Joseph Großauer. Many ecclesiastical vessels by him still survive in churches in and around Munich, although we do not know the precise circumstances behind the commision of this piece. Although the six plaques applied to the bowl and foot of the chalice show scenes of Christ's final, tormented, hours, and His Crucifixion and Resurrection, the overall visual impression is of a vessel decorated with the 'c'-scroll patterns and shell forms characteristic of fashionable ornament of the first half of the eighteenth century.

Physical description

Silver-gilt, the foot is raised and embossed. Screwed to it by means of nuts and bolts are three cast, oval plaques which depict three different moments in the hours before Christ's crucifixion: the Agony in the Garden, the Mocking of Christ and the Flagellation of Christ. The knop of the chalice is cast; the bowl of the chalice itself raised and embossed. The whole held together by means of a rod through the stem and a nut under the foot. Three more cast oval plaques are applied to the outer side of the chalice bowl, showing scenes immediately before, during and after the Crucifixion: Christ carrying the cross; the Crucifixion with Mary and St John at the base of the cross; Christ's Resurrection.

Place of Origin

Munich (made)


1742 (made)


Grossauer, Joseph (made)

Marks and inscriptions

Two marks punched on the upper rim of the foot. These are, from left to right:

Combined assay and date mark for the town of Munich for 1742: see Rosenberg (1923), III, no. 3453

Maker's mark, initials I G in an oval punch, probably for Joseph Großauer. See Rosenberg (1923), III, no. 3533.


Depth: 31.2 cm, Diameter: 19.7 cm diameter of base, Weight: 978.4 g

Object history note

The circumstances surrounding this commission are unknown, but Joseph Großauer, the goldsmith who probably made this chalice, ran a successful workshop producing ecclesiastical and secular plate in eighteenth-century Munich. Großauer was the son of a Viennese blacksmith and it was in Vienna that he served his apprenticeship as a goldsmith. His marriage to the widow of a Munich goldsmith, Franz Benedikt Leismüller, meant he practiced his trade in that city, becoming Master of the Munich Guild of Goldsmiths in 1718. During his career, Großauer registered marks in an oval punch (as on this chalice) and on a shield-shaped one (see Frankenburger: 1912, pp. 390-393). Between 1735 and his death in 1755, Ducal accounts record he worked for the Bavarian Court, producing items such as two military swords (in 1748) and silver-gilt plates (in 1750). It is his ecclesiastical work that has principally survived, however, and most of it is preserved in churches in and around Munich. The Mariahilfkirche (Munich) holds his best-known work, a monstrance over a metre high with embossed three-dimensional figures of God the Father and worshipping Saints, and dating from around 1710-20 (see Rosenberg: 1923; Frankenburger: 1912; Somers Cocks: Catalogue of German Silver).
The Museum purchased the chalice in 1969 from the Society of St John the Evangelist, an Anglican community of priests based in Oxford.

Historical significance: This chalice is a well-preserved example of the work of a successful goldsmith working during the first half of the eighteenth-century. The 'c'-shaped scrolls and shell forms embossed on the bowl and foot are characteristic of the type of ornament of this period, known as Rococo.

Historical context note

Although many German states and kingdoms split from the Catholic church in the sixteenth century and embraced the reformed Christian doctrine of Protestantism, significant areas, particularly in the south, remained staunchly Catholic. Munich, in the Duchy of Bavaria, was one such area. Consequently, there was a constant need for goldsmiths to supply local churches with the vessels necessary for the celebration of Mass. This chalice would have been used during the Catholic Mass to hold the wine which, according to Catholic belief became the actual blood of Christ when consecrated by the priest. The richest possible materials were used for these vessels: this one is gilded silver.

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt, Germany (Munich), probably 1742, mark of Joseph Großauer.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Rosenberg, Marc. Der goldschmiede Merkzeichen. 4 vols. Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurter Verlags-Anstalt a.-g., 1922-28.
Frankenburger, Max. Die alt-Münchner Goldschmiede und Ihre Kunst. Munich: Bruckmann, 1912.
Somers Cocks, Anna. Catalogue of the German Silver in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Unpublished, ca. 1978.

Labels and date


Rococo ornament did not appear only on domestic objects. It was also used on ecclesiastical silver and textiles, for which there was a continued demand from churches. Although the oval plaques on this chalice depict the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the profuse decoration is made up of fashionable Rococo scrolls and the wave and rock-like ornament known as rocaille.

Germany (Munich)
By Joseph Großauer
Gilded silver




Embossing; Chasing; Casting; Gilding


Christianity; Metalwork; Religion


Metalwork Collection

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